By Mike Gendron
Rescuing Precious Souls from the Bondage of Religion
We can be wrong about a lot of things in this life and still survive, but if we are wrong about the only way to obtain forgiveness from God, we will pay for that fatal mistake throughout all eternity. Our Creator provides only one way to redeem man from sin and He has revealed it in a divinely inspired message to mankind. However, it didn't take long for God's complete and perfect Gospel message to be corrupted by religious leaders. These men, who say they speak for God, have distorted and perverted this good news of God's mercy and grace. Their unstated goal has been to control people by keeping them in legalistic bondage to their authority. The Lord Jesus revealed the only way of escape from this bondage. He said: "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
Establish the Supreme Authority for Truth
Reaching those who are being held captiveby religious indoctrination must always begin by establishing the Bible as the supremeauthority for knowing God's Gospel. Christand His Word must rule over man's religioustraditions because God has exalted His Wordabove all things (Psalm 138:2). The word ofGod is infallible and has no equal (Isa. 55:10).The Bible is the most authoritative, influential and powerful book ever written. It is thestandard for discerning truth from error(1 John 4:6). It is sufficient to function as thesole, infallible rule of faith (2 Tim. 3:14-16).The Bible does not refer us to any other ruleof faith because everything we must know,understand and believe to be reconciled toGod is found in Scripture (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Whenever we are confronted by two or more opinions, we must always ask, "But what does the Scripture say?" (Gal. 4:30).
What About The Traditions of Men?
Roman Catholics reject the supreme authority of Scripture by elevating their tradition to the same level of authority. They defend their position by quoting St. Paul who wrote: "Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thes. 2:15). But we must make a distinction between traditions which had already been taught by the apostles in the first century and the traditions established by men over the last 1900 years (2 Cor. 11:2 ; 2 Thes. 3:6).
Clearly there are certain apostolic traditions recorded in Scripture that Christians must embrace, but not all traditions are biblical. Paul encouraged us to make this distinction. He wrote: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:8). Paul is warning us that we can become ensnared by the traditions of men when they do not conform to Christ and His word. Tradition must always be subservient to Scripture because God's word is divinely inspired while tradition is not.
What About "Infallible" Men?
Roman Catholics also reject the supreme authority of Scripture by elevating its "infallible" bishops to be equal in authority. Inpractice, the bishops actually sit aboveScripture by declaring no one else can givean authentic interpretation of the Word of God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 85). Yet the Apostle Paul commended the Bereans (who were not bishops) for interpreting the Scriptures to verify the truthfulness of his teaching. "Now the Bereans ... received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11). It is quite clear that the apostle, who penned over half the New Testament, encouraged his listeners to submit to the supreme authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. The veracity of every man's message must be tested with the same Scriptural authority.
Getting the Gospel Right
Once the supreme authority of Scripture has been communicated to Catholics who are enslaved to another authority, the Gospel of God can be heralded. It is wise to present God's Gospel in contrast to Rome's plan of salvation so Catholics can discern the difference. The distinction between the two gospels can best be described as the difference between divine accomplishment and human achievement. The true Gospel describes what God has done through Jesus Christ to save sinners, while the gospel of Rome describes what man must do for God. Paul defines the Gospel according to Scripture alone (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The glorious Gospel of grace is what one perfect man did 2000 years ago to reconcile sinful man to God. It has nothing to do with what any imperfect man has done since, or is doing now. This eliminates all the requirements Roman Catholics have added to the finished work of Jesus Christ. It also eliminates Catholic priests making daily sin offerings on their altars.
Catholics Are Totally Dependent
Upon An Illegitimate Priesthood One of the most controlling elements of the Roman Catholic religion is its indoctrination concerning the priesthood. Each Catholic is taught that their salvation is utterly dependent upon the ministry of their priests. According to the unbiblical teachings of Rome, it is the Catholic priest who baptizes infants for their justification and spiritual birth, the priest who hears confession and demands penance as the satisfaction for sin, the priest who dispenses Jesus in the Eucharist, the priest who imparts the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation, the priest who gives Last Rites, and the priest who offers the sacrifice of the Mass for souls suffering in purgatory. What a fatal deception!
There is no longer a need for priests offering sacrifices for sin because by one offering Jesus Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). At the very moment our Lord Jesus gave up His Spirit on Calvary's cross, the veil of the temple was tom in two from top to bottom (Mat. 27:51). The veil that separated sinful man from the Holy of Holies was ripped open, and now, anyone washed by the blood of Christ can come boldly into the presence of God. When Jesus, our High Priest, offered Himself once for all sin for all time, he made the sacrificial priesthood obsolete. Every believer in Jesus Christ has been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb.10:10).
The illegitimacy and obsolescence of the Roman Catholic priesthood is also expressly noted by the sovereign and exclusive work of the triune God in saving sinners. It is God the Father who chooses, calls and draws the lost to His Son (John 6:44; Jas. 2:5). The Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin and the coming judgment (John 16:8-11). Jesus Christ is proclaimed through His Word as the only way of salvation (John 14:6). God gives life to those dead in sin and grants the sinner repentance and faith (Rom. 4:17; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:25). Jesus exchanges His righteousness for the sins of the believer (2 Cor. 5:21). The Holy Spirit seals, indwells and empowers the justified believer (Eph. 1:13-14, Rom. 8). The Father adopts, secures and glorifies His children (John 1:12; Rom. 8:30). Clearly, God alone is deserving of all glory! (Rom. 11:36). He alone is worthy to be praised!
Peter expressed the bondage that enslaves religious leaders who exchange the truth of God for the fatal errors of men. He wrote: "Speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved (2 Pet. 2:18-20).
How Can We Rescue These Precious Souls?
Paul provides the answer! "The Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kindto all, able to teach, patient when wronged,with gentleness correcting those who are inopposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim. 2:24-26). We must take note of the correct way to approach those who are being deceived by the clever, scheming, and subtle lies of the devil. We must lovingly confront them with gentleness, patience and humility and avoid being quarrelsome or argumentative. As we correct them, we must use the Scriptures and avoid giving our own opinions, experiences or philosophy. Saving faith comes from hearing the Word (Rom. 10:17).
Liberty from the bondage of sin and deception is found only in Christ. The Father sent Him to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and to set free those who are downtrodden (Luke 4:18). Jesus also came to give sight to the blind because a veil of spiritual blindness covers every man's heart. However there is one condition that must be met: Paul declares: "whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (2 Cor. 3:16). This means turning from fallible men and their traditions and turning to Christ and His infallible word!